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Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

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… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

I would think of myself as something special, and that … would make me feel isolated.  It is the sense of separateness that isolates us from other people … this arrogant thinking creates … loneliness and anxiety …

Dalai Lama, XIV in The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

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We do not often think of “separation” and its consequences.  That in itself is interesting since we are social creatures and Christianity presents to us a God who calls us to Him and one another.

When you begin to think about separation in today’s America you see immediately the common presence of both radical individualism and radical egalitarianism in our politics and its particular place among the godless Left.  Likewise you see how the judiciary is often presented with questions of “equality” and individual “rights” and how ill-prepared judges and courts are regarding these long-standing questions in human existence and well being, and the consequential nature of connection and separation.  Indeed, look no further than divorce – see children without fathers, children born out of wedlock – see the results in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles and other cities where fatherless boys and girls and homicides are so common.

See, too, suicides which have exploded and are more common than homicides.  And homelessness, and drug and addiction, mental illness, narcissism, adultery, predatory sexual behavior among men and even female teachers as to their students.

No longer are we connected to family, faith or nation. Yes, the loss of connection is separation and its sufferings, sickness and deaths.  That is where we are and where secularism, liberalism and godless Leftist ideology has taken us.  We are dis-integrating and doing so rather quickly.

Shalom.

For a provocative read – Allan Bloom has an interesting chapter on “Relationships” in his excellent book The Closing of the American Mind.  I suggest you take a look – but more importantly I urge you to think about the tragic costs of radical individualism, radical egalitarianism – the separation they have produced, and the extraordinary damage that has been done our citizens and this nation.

 “… My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’  But it is for this purpose I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.”

Jn 12: 27, 28

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Jesus knew that His hour was near.  He knew the trial he would endure.  So do we.

We know that trials will come to us – that we will be neglected at times, maybe forgotten.  We will know loneliness and rejection – and being taken for granted.  This is just the way life unfolds at times.

We know as well that injury awaits, and pain and suffering also.  And we know that mortal life will end in time – maybe soon, maybe latter – but end it will.

But if we are with Christ we cannot be troubled.  Oh yes, being left by others works against the grain of our intimate needs and preferences – but those who are in relationship with Christ are intended to live for the glory of the Father not for the attention of others.

Yes, if Christians – we live as Christ. For us, there is no other goal in life but to live for the Glory of the Father.  Doing so, one can feel pain, rejection, loss and rise above it.  

This is our call and our eternal estate.  Fear not.  Find infinite peace in troubles and trials – such deeds (when man made) show the failures of others, their lack of belief.  There is no sting for you in their failure – but there is for them.

Shalom.

 

In order to be enchanted we must be, above all, capable of seeing another person – simply opening one’s eyes will not do.  (Emphasis added.)

Jose Ortega y Gasset, in On Love, Aspects of a Simple Theme

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In his book A Secular Age, Charles Taylor tells us that those in secular culture have lost their capacity for enchantment.

To be enchanted is to be charmed, enraptured – capable of being taken by delight.  The word itself is rooted in the Latin word incantare meaning: to chant magic words.

What Taylor is saying is that in a secular existence one cannot easily be enraptured, taken by the mysticism of sacred things, lost in sacred words.  In terms of Ortega y Gasset – Taylor is saying that one is unable to know a love of another completely.

Mind you Ortega y Gasset reminds us that to take another in one must do so not with eyes but with heart.

Considered fully, Taylor makes a very serious observation; in secular culture we are unable to be fully human, to know the love of another as fully as we once could.  Taylor is saying in secular existence we lessen or lose the capacity for intimacy, for relationship with others – lose the capacity for deep intimate union with others.  In this we are less human, less fully developed, less able to experience the mystical experience of faith or the wholeness of our being.

Taylor’s view seems right to me.

I listen to the contemporary music of the 1940’s and 50’s and I hear ballads that express the love one can have for another.  The content of the music of those days was overflowing with descriptions of the rapture of love of another.

I hear very little today that conveys such sentiments.  No now, I mostly hear coarse lyrics, and I see marital infidelity, divorce, abortion, the rise of pornography, harsh language on the public airwaves and little that models healthy devotions of man to woman, and woman to man.  It is my view that feminism has actually deprived woman of their humanity and men and women are much the worse for this.

Secularism levies a heavy price.  No wonder we manifest such unhappiness and loneliness.  Maybe it is time to reject secularism in all its crippling forms.

Shalom.

Absolutely shameful.  Congressman Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, indicated today that there was no intelligence material alleging any collusion between Russia and candidate Donald Trump that would have justified the opening of an F.B.I. investigation of Candidate Trump.  He made this comment after reviewing the existing intelligence reports that would have contained such information should it have existed.

Mr. Nunes also said that two former associates of Candidate Hillary Clinton (the former Secretary of State in the Obama administration) were disseminating information to people in the State Department – leaving Nunes and others to wonder if Hillary might have been the impetus for investigating her opponent Donald Trump.

This is all absolutely shameful and fitting a totalitarian regime.  Very serious stuff.

 

 

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Mt 5:8

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John Dunne in The Circle Dance of Time tells of a student who asks a rabbi why it is that men no longer see the face of God.

The rabbi replies that men no longer “stoop so low” – meaning that they no longer subordinate themselves to a superior reality … that our preference for our own autonomy keeps us from knowing God and ironical finding and knowing ourself.

It follows that not knowing self nor God staves off contentment, peace and loving self or another.

If you do not know yourself nor God can you know another or have peace?  Indeed the question arises – Without knowing self or God, can you love at all?  Can you find peace?  Tranquility in mortal existence?

One can justifiably ask: does our autonomy – the priority we place on our rights under the law of man in a culture that disdains faith, relationship with God … does this state of being, this consciousness leave us discontented, quarrelsome, far less than we are made to be … does this emphasis on autonomy insure our unhappiness? 

The loss of God in a mass communication culture where legal rights are extolled accentuates our unhappiness – particularly when all manner of uninformed, sparsely educated voices, ignorant and hostile and divisive ones dominate public discourse?

If we are offered the “pursuit of happiness” in our nation, are we not wiser still to subordinate ourselves to the superior reality of God?  Is it not obvious that our access to happiness requires that we bend to a superior reality.

One nation under God – – – yes or no?

If you wish to understand the chaos, division and hostility that abounds daily in this land – think about what is written here today.

From mass media to politics and mindless homicides – we show our distance from health and happiness.  This need not be.

Shalom.

 

 

Jung felt that the pursuit of wholeness was essential for redressing the split between the conscious and the unconscious.  Although the differentiation … is a natural part of psychiatric development, a total break between the two realms can cause psychic problems.

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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Dr. Smith, a Jungian psychologist whose focus is human development and the history of religion, goes on to quote Carl Jung, M.D., who said the “more powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will” the less well and whole we are. In this state, psychic problems follow.

Why do I bring this up?

Well it is quite simple.  I hear from people quite often that they see and encounter people whose actions seem disordered, selfish, troubled, and without concern for others, irrational.  Indeed, Jung is talking about this very issue – about people who are “unconscious” – cut off from their whole being.

Dr. Jung is talking about human wholeness – the unification of the whole human person – the person’s full human development (intellectual, social, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual, etc.) as the object of our creation and existence; and I am concerned that culture can either advance or impede this development.  Further (having studied the relationship between faith and exclusionary secular culture) I see that we produce an abundance of unhealthy, even disintegrated individuals, and that unnecessary chaos, conflict, suffering, division and isolation abound.  May I reference Harvey Weinstein and the legions of married female teachers engaged in sexual conduct with their underage students as “a for instance.”

Consistent with Jung, when man becomes the exclusive focus of man the individual self becomes all important and man’s reason is cultivated at the cost of the unconscious aspects of his being.  Said another way, when man is focused exclusively on man his psyche (soul) is forgotten and problems manifest.

Yes, in our secularized culture we have become one-dimensional, trapped in self and materiality but devoid of a metaphysical intelligence (and spiritual maturity) and hence fall short of the capacity for a full range of experience and human development.  Frankly, we are not well.  We are fragmented at best – lack the capacity for introspection, self-examination, intimacy, and the ability to receive others.  To the contrary, we objectify others and cannot fully comprehend the bizarre actions (even tragedies) that surround us.

Case in point: we are mystified by the actions of Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock.  His autopsy shows no brain damage to explain his rampage and the authorities can find no particular motive, personal social footprint or provocation for his actions.

Unable to see as other than diminished secularists, they ignore the Unibomber in explaining Mr. Paddock.  They do not recall the Unibomber’s rage arouse from his parents who demanded he forsake other people and things, from childhood on, in favor of constant study.  His parents made him a slave of his intellect.

Yes, in a single fit of rage as a teenager he screamed this to them: “You never let me have a friend!”

It is hard to imagine a more chilling indictment of one’s parents nor a more dreadful, socially starved existence.  He, like Paddock, was a greatly diminished person, one far from wholeness – asocial, isolated, alone.

The neglect of our God-given fullness is the cause of the serious disorder among the godless from top to bottom of the social strata.  We are devoted to self and self alone – and far less well for it.

If we continue in this way, our suffering and murderous chaos, abhorrent interpersonal behavior, group violence, corruption and cover-up, and our isolation one from another will continue us on a destructive, evil path.

When God is neglected, the soul cannot be well.  We prove this daily.

Shalom.

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

Maggie Sullivan was married to Seamus for forty years, and a fine marriage it was.  Each could be themselves and as most women know in such a comfortable experience, Seamus was, in his natural state as a man, one who could playfully tease and joke affectionally with his beloved.

Well in the midst of their give and take one day, Maggie says to Seamus, after giggling at his gentle tomfoolery, “Seamus, I must have been a fool when I married you.”  To which Seamus replied, “Aye, but I was in love and never noticed.”

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Love and Truth.  Can there be love without truth?  Not likely.

When you think about it our Christian faith tells us as much.  We have a God of Love and a narrative that shares the Truth of being human and being created by a knowing and intentional God.

If a marriage relies on truth and love, does it not follow that a family and a society does as well?

In my life I know I was raised in a family where truth was told and love flowed freely.  This was, as a think about it, a live among faithful people, those who worshiped in their honesty and affection.  There was no censorship in that place. One said what we saw and experienced.  We dealt in truth and the search for, and experience of, it.  Love followed it in tandem.  Yes, I was raised in a secure environment within that family and among others in my community who lived quite the same way.  From truth and love, courage, optimism and community followed.  Life was lived and not avoided.

It is little wonder that I have friends with whom I share a life of 66 years of close friendship, of shared truth and indissoluble love.

As experience our culture today, especially the public culture, I see little taste for truth in media, little appetite for truth in politics.

I cite but two iterations.  One, the grotesque habit of having a government “spokesman” for the President, the State and Defense Department, etc. whose only distinguishing feature seems to be to avoid truth in favor of fiction, to disassemble and pronounce things a decent and sane person would or should know is, to say the lease, a shading of the truth.

The other citation is the extraordinary one-sided and repetitive narrowness of media reporters (televised and print).

On this latter group, I recall my very bright, truth-seeking Ph.D. son who said to me some years ago: “Dad, when I begin to read something in the newspapers and find a clear misstatement of fact or truth, I simply ignore the article and move on.”

He hardly gives the newspaper a glance today.  Neither does he eat rancid food. Same principle at play.

If there is no love without truth, we are destroying our access to the life Maggie and Seamus know?  I say, “Yes.”

I can tell you this if you avoid truth you lose intimacy, a life of ease and fellowship, the joys of man’s habitual unplanned follies and the laughter, humility, and wisdom they generously produce.

Be alert to what you hear.  Be discreet in your easy acceptance of it.  See the Truth, love is comes with it.

Shalom.

Blog Post for July 12, 2016

We are all lonely for something we do not know we are lonely for.  How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like you miss somebody we’ve never even met.

David Foster Wallace

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One could think of Wallace’s haunting words as in some ways the product of the disenchantment produced with the pivot away from God and sacramental consciousness in favor of the primacy of man and reason at the end of the Middle Ages.

With this – man, it can be said, began a lonely march away from peace and happiness and toward the heavy burden of self and self-importance in but one dimension: the mortal world unprotected by God or God’s mercy.

Ironically, man’s freedom to explore the natural world, in the oddest of ways, contributed to man’s reduction.  How so?

The capacity to examine the natural world held the likelihood that man might exalt himself, believe in his own divinity, power, importance – that he create an estrangement from his own nature and longings that would bring him not esteem so much as the inevitable specter of isolation and loneliness.  Yes, becoming full of a “buffered” self, man became empty – one who in time would feel lonely for “something” (God, an invisible reality, life beyond the mortal frame of reference, etc.), one does not even know he is lonely for.

The point is this: history moved from “the God hypothesis” to the “no God hypothesis.” The latter producing man so full of himself, so “stuffed to the gills” with himself that he was quite empty and unable to offer an explanation for things unexplainable.  He lost access to mystery and to the experience of the experience of man or the Divine, and to speak in a poetic voice of each. He lost the capacity for intimacy, for intimacy with another, knowledge of himself – man lost intimate contact with his true self.

Man in his freedom and dignity succeeded in maximizing himself reduced, while minimizing God. It follows that man sought in one form then another reliance not on God’s order for man, but man’s order for man.  Arise, the hollow and shallow political man!

What was once thought to be a divine and sacred order of existence became a secular, and the desacralized order of imperfect man seeking to govern imperfect man and growing sicker, more lost and lonely by the decade.

Today in the U.S. and the West we might know this calamity as the secular versus the Christian way of being.

With life without God we know “the curious feeling” of missing “someone we’ve even never met.”  Such is life of man without God.  We are, it seems, in the desert for forty days in the company of Satan.  Such is the tragic and injurious state we have “created” for ourselves.

Shalom.

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